Table of Contents
Journal of Allergy
Volume 2011, Article ID 948406, 21 pages
Review Article

Apoptosis and the Airway Epithelium

Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 6076, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Received 14 May 2011; Accepted 18 September 2011

Academic Editor: Darryl A. Knight

Copyright © 2011 Steven R. White. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The airway epithelium functions as a barrier and front line of host defense in the lung. Apoptosis or programmed cell death can be elicited in the epithelium as a response to viral infection, exposure to allergen or to environmental toxins, or to drugs. While apoptosis can be induced via activation of death receptors on the cell surface or by disruption of mitochondrial polarity, epithelial cells compared to inflammatory cells are more resistant to apoptotic stimuli. This paper focuses on the response of airway epithelium to apoptosis in the normal state, apoptosis as a potential regulator of the number and types of epithelial cells in the airway, and the contribution of epithelial cell apoptosis in important airways diseases.